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Moscow to back Syrian army in ‘rooting out terror threat,’ vows Russia’s top diplomat

Russia calls to send a UN mission to assess humanitarian situation in Syria’s Raqqa, the top diplomat says

GENEVA, February 28. /TASS/. Russia will continue rendering assistance to the Syrian army to help stamp out the terrorist threat, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday.

Russia’s top diplomat made this statement while speaking in Geneva at a high-level segment of the 37th session of the UN Human Rights Council and the Conference on Disarmament. "We consider it inadmissible to divide terrorists into ‘good’ and ‘bad,’ especially when this is done depending on the goals or the sources of financing declared by the extremists,’ Lavrov said.

"Russia will continue to persistently fight the nefarious practice of such double standards, even by rendering assistance to the Syrian army in finally rooting out the terror threat," Russia’s top diplomat promised.

What also captures attention is "the demonstrative unpreparedness of some Council members under the pretext of the freedom of speech to clearly denounce international terrorism in any of its forms and manifestations," Russia’s foreign minister said.

"We call on the members of the so-called American coalition to provide humanitarian access to Syria’s areas controlled by it, including the Rukban refugee camp and the entire territory around al-Tanf," he said.

Russia’s top diplomat described as extremely dangerous attempts to use human rights violations to justify military adventures aimed at regime change and recalled Pope Francis’ remarks who said that it is impossible to fight evil with another evil. "Whatever attitude to [Iraq’s former President] Saddam Hussein and [former Libyan leader] Muammar Gaddafi may be, let those who toppled them answer a simple question, namely, did the illegal intervention alleviate people’s suffering, did it protect the most important of human rights - the right to life? The answer is obvious," Lavrov pointed out.

"Never in the history of humanity did the deliberate destruction of states benefit ordinary people," he stressed. "On the contrary, it always brought humanitarian disasters to civilians. That was also the cause for unprecedented waves of illegal migration that swept Europe, an unprecedented upsurge of terrorism, persecution of Christians and members of other religions.".

"It is necessary to immediately send a mission of the UN and the ICRC to assess the situation in Raqqa, which the coalition has bombed and thrown in at the deep end with unexploded mine fields and the fully destroyed infrastructure," the foreign minister said.

Lavrov also noted that the UN Security Council Resolution 2401 on a humanitarian pause in Syria has created a framework for agreeing by all parties on the conditions for alleviating the civilians’ sufferings across the country.

"Russia together with the Syrian government has already announced creating humanitarian corridors in Eastern Ghouta," Lavrov said. However, the militants there and their sponsors are impeding the delivery of assistance and the evacuation of those citizens willing to leave the area and continue shelling Damascus, he noted.

On Tuesday, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov described the situation in Raqqa as a humanitarian crisis, which "is being ignored by ‘liberators’ from the US-led coalition." Air strikes have destroyed more than 80% of buildings in the city, while residential areas have been cut off water and electricity supplies, he said.

Bombs and improvised explosive devices planted in the city’s ruins have been detonating on a daily basis. Since the US-led coalition announced the liberation of Raqqa from the Islamic State (terror group outlawed in Russia), nearly 400 civilians have died, Konashenkov said.

According to him, around 40,000 people currently remain in Raqqa, which used to be home to more than 200,000 citizens before the US-led coalition’s offensive. The current situation in Raqqa is totally different from that in Aleppo and other Syrian cities liberated from terrorists, where restoration work is underway, he noted.